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But what do you do? [Oct. 27th, 2005|11:39 am]
The "about" pages of a web site should be clear, concise and sum up who you are and what you do.

Too many organisations, particularly government, offer up long-winded boring background that only alienates the reader with irrelevant detail high up.

Take the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for instance, which buries the useful information beneath an awful first par.


Who We Are And What We Do

WHO ARE WE? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), under the U.S. Department of Transportation, was established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970, as the successor to the National Highway Safety Bureau, to carry out safety programs under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and the Highway Safety Act of 1966. The Vehicle Safety Act has subsequently been recodified under Title 49 of the U. S. Code in Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety. NHTSA also carries out consumer programs established by the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act of 1972, which has been recodified in various Chapters under Title 49.

NHTSA is responsible for reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. This is accomplished by setting and enforcing safety performance standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, and through grants to state and local governments to enable them to conduct effective local highway safety programs.


Send me your examples so we can all learn from each other.
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Lead by example [Sep. 12th, 2005|01:12 pm]
The US Department of Justice would do well to follow its own advice in improving access to services for persons with "Limited English Proficiency".

Cold, formal, wordy government-speak is more likely to confuse, than help, people with limited proficiency in English:

"On August 11, 2000, the President signed Executive Order 13166, "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency." The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP), and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them. It is expected that agency plans will provide for such meaningful access consistent with, and without unduly burdening, the fundamental mission of the agency. The Executive Order also requires that the Federal agencies work to ensure that recipients of Federal financial assistance provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries.

To assist Federal agencies in carrying out these responsibilities, the U.S. Department of Justice has issued a Policy Guidance Document, "Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - National Origin Discrimination Against Persons With Limited English Proficiency" (LEP Guidance). This LEP Guidance sets forth the compliance standards that recipients of Federal financial assistance must follow to ensure that their programs and activities normally provided in English are accessible to LEP persons and thus do not discriminate on the basis of national origin in violation of Title VI's prohibition against national origin discrimination.

The Coordination and Review Section is responsible for governmentwide coordination with respect to Executive Order 13166. The Section serves as the federal repository for the internal implementation plans that each federal agency is required to develop, to ensure meaningful access to its own federally conducted programs and activities, and it also reviews and approves each funding agency’s external LEP guidance for its recipients. As the Department of Justice prepared its own plan, the Section reviewed and approved each component’s submission. Further, the Section developed the Department’s external guidance for its own recipients.

The Section has initiated an aggressive program of intra- and inter-agency consultations and actively solicits comments and suggestions from representatives of recipient and LEP individuals on how to identify and address the needs of LEP individuals under Executive Order 13166 in an effective and cost-effective manner.

Commonly Asked Questions and Answers Regarding Executive Order 13166: Providing Meaningful Access to Individuals Who Are Limited English Proficient to Federally Assisted and Federally Conducted Programs And Activities."
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Custom-made jargon and gibberish [Jul. 21st, 2005|03:52 pm]
"At any given moment there is an
orthdoxy, a body of ideas which
it is assumed that all right thinking
people will accept without question."
- George Orwell (Preface to Animal Farm)
(And then there are the equally mindless
phrases in which they speak of it.)

So opens this delightful spoof of pompous communication including -

Pomoprattle: The Language of Postmodernism
Bureaubabble: The Language of University Administration
Politpiddle: The Language of Political Campaigns
Moneymumble: The Language of Corporate America
Donordrivel: The Language of Collegiate Fundraising

Read em and weep -
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Share your gems of bad web writing [Jun. 8th, 2005|12:21 pm]
Goodshare has its fair share of bad writing, not to mention classic "how-not-to" web design.

I'd like to tell you what the site is about but you'll find no clues in the home page opening blurb -

Welcome to the Internet Pages of Goodshare!

Follow the easy-writer path in blue to get the general idea and 'go for more' in the itsy bitsy writing when/if you care to, ... and/or 'click here' for a brief, simplified overview of this site or to hear about how Big Brother is Watching;

Links to other research areas that embody close to the same worldview as on these Goodshare website; (i.e. 'inclusionality' );

For a transdisciplinary coming-together of 'inclusionality' ideas as are embodied in this website involving parallel work in mathematics and biology/ecology, see the tripartite essay at the 'Matran School of Transfigural Mathematics' (Berlin) Website (www.matran.de)

Some physicists, SpaceLife Institute ( www.directscientificexperience.com ) are also giving new meaning to the ancient 'inclusional' worldview wherein space sets up its own rhythms (space is androgynous and a-temporal) without the need for any hard dependency on the psychologically invented abstraction of 'time'.

And it gets worse. See for yourself at -
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The worst jargon offenders [Mar. 12th, 2005|12:38 pm]
Lawyers and IT firms are the worst culprits for using jargon, according to a British report.

The top 5 offenders -
1. Lawyers and solicitors
2. Computer and IT professionals
3. The Government
4. Banks
5. Local councils

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It's time to get real about writing [Mar. 11th, 2005|03:20 pm]
Thanks to the Net, everyone can claim to be a writer these days.

You no longer need a printing press to publish - just get an email account, blog, web page, messenger ID and you're away.

After eight years reviewing web sites and teaching people how to write for the web, I'm still amazed at how little attention is paid to content.

Too many web site owners just whack up their printed materials ("shovelware") or entrust the job to non-trained professionals (all you need is Dreamweaver, right?).

Content is the reason people go to your web site, e-newsletter or blog.

No matter how "cool" your online publication looks, the proof is in the reading.

Help me scour the Net for examples of bad writing so we can shame publishers into respecting the might of the pen (or, rather, keyboard).
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